I just got back from the Handcrafted Soapmakers Guild conference in Palm Springs, CA. It was an awesome 3-day experience! Being the current President of the Soap Guild, I had responsibilities while there and was involved in the preparations (although Leigh O’Donnell, the Conference Chairman, was truly the mastermind behind it all). I loved having the opportunity to see old friends and meet new ones. We soapmakers certainly are an interesting and passionate lot!
After several days of preps and getting set up, the conference kicked off (after my introduction and orientation) with a presentation by Erin Brockovich,
who was awesome. She spoke about stick-to-it-tive-ness, the need to carry on even when you think you can’t and shared stories of her personal trials and triumphs. Her presence at the conference was sponsored by Dennis and Kayla Fioravanti
of Essential Wholesale
, who deserve extreme kudos for their support of the HSMG.Following Erin during the conference were many speakers on a variety of subjects pertaining to soapmaking and running a soapmaking business. I didn’t get to see them all (duty calling, you know), but I did particularly enjoy Donna Maria Coles Johnson’s
presentation on “The Media Is You!” Talk about social media! By the time she was done there were people tweeting and posting on facebook everywhere!Also on my top fav list was the scientific presentation by Kevin Dunn, PhD. Every year Kevin, the author of Caveman Chemistry
and the soon-to-be-released Scientific Soapmaking, presents scientific research done by his college students into some aspect of soapmaking. This year it was the effect of temperature in the soapmaking process. Finally answered was the age-old question, “to gel or not to gel”. (And, as usual, the answer was “it depends on what you are trying to accomplish”.) But now I know how to determine if I SHOULD take my soaps to gel phase, and, more importantly, WHY.
My two major jobs at the conference were presiding over the Annual Membership Meeting and the Awards Dinner. The Annual Meeting went very well. Elections were completed (my term limit as President is up and Leigh O’Donnell was elected as the next President), committee reports were read, several bylaw changes were approved and I, along with Jackie Thompson and LaShonda Tyree, was appointed to the 2010 Nominating Committee.
The Awards Dinner was pretty straight-forward, with many awards given. People at the conference who have been members for more than 5 years were each given Longevity Awards (I got one for 10 years membership, and Rob Brown of The Lebermuth Company got one for 11 years continuous membership!), Soaper’s Showcase winners were announced and awarded certificates with the Best in Show winner getting a beautiful tear-drop plaque, Certified Soapmakers got their certificates … and I got roasted!
Wooden spoon wand & hair net crown
It was really quite an experience! Kevin, Kayla, Dennis, Rob, and others brought in a “throne”, with Kevin leading the way with a wooden spoon “septer”. I was crowned with a plastic hair-cover “crown” and had to listen to Leigh and several others point out some of my shortcomings. Leigh had the audacity to name me the “typo queen” and show onscreen some of the better examples of why the title fits. (Yes, I really did put “2007” on the 2008 sponsorship brochure!) Sainthood for my accomplishments in the HSMG was suggested, but our own Sister Cathleen Timberlake reviewed the requirements and it was determined that I don’t quite fit the bill (mostly because I’m not dead yet) and instead I was given a beautiful angel.After that, however, a lot of people I really, really respect and admire came up to recognize me and my work with the HSMG. I was also awarded (with some pomp and ceremony) Honorary Life Membership in the HSMG. It was a wonderful acknowledgement – I don’t think I’ve ever felt so loved, respected and admired. I did manage to keep from crying the whole time, but only just barely.
I nearly cried at all the nice things said.
It has been my honor to work with the Handcrafted Soapmakers Guild and all the dedicated, caring, passionate people who make up this marvelous industry of handcrafted soapmakers.